Jackie Robinson, Daytona Beach and Desegregation

City Island Ball Park, Daytona Beach, circa 1940

City Island Ball Park, Daytona Beach, circa 1940

Today is the birthday of Jack Roosevelt “Jackie” Robinson (January 31, 1919 – October 24, 1972).

City Island Ball Park, renamed Jackie Robinson Ball Park in 1990, was built circa 1915. Daytona Beach was the first city in Florida that allowed Robinson to play during spring training in 1946 when he was a member of the Montreal Royals of the International League.

Both Sanford and Jacksonville, citing segregation laws, refused to let Montreal play an exhibition game against the Brooklyn Dodgers, parent club of Robinson’s Royals. Daytona Beach agreed to the game, which was played on March 17, 1946.

As a result of the resistance by Jacksonville, the Dodgers moved spring training to City Island Ball Park, and in 1948 built Dodgertown in Vero Beach. Jackie Robinson Ball Park was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1998.